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Understanding how the Courts of Justice Act and the Small Claims Court Rules operate and apply to your legal claim is fundamental to achieving a successful outcome. While the costs and complexity of litigation can sometimes be a burden to accessing the justice system, the Small Claims Court is designed to streamline the litigation process by simplifying the procedure for claims up to $25,000; not inclusive of costs. 

Trials are generally accessible much sooner than in the Superior Court. This dramatically reduces the time, money, and stress spent on litigation. Even where a claim is just over the $25,000 ceiling, it can be wise to forgo the excess and file under Small Claims because of the amount of time and legal expenses that can be saved by avoiding the Superior Court procedure.

In deciding which court is appropriate for your dispute, professional legal advice can optimize your chance of success by helping to value and characterize your claim. If your claim is within the limit and concerns disputes such as: property damage, unpaid debts, or selective contract breaches the Small Claims Court is likely your best option.

Efficiency: Reduced Time, Expenses, and Increased Standardization

The Small Claims process can result in lower legal fees and less disruption to a client's life. This is partly because the Small Claims Court is designed with a greater emphasis on early settlement. The simplified rules help streamline the litigation process towards a timely outcome. Lengthier processes in the Superior Court, such as expanded documentary and oral discovery, have the potential to significantly increase the cost and time required to resolve a dispute.

The Small Claims process also provides uniformity in the legal steps of a claim. This enables lawyers to give clients a more accurate estimation of time required for their claim and the potential outcomes. There is far less opportunity for opposing parties to unnecessarily delay proceedings and to increase the costs of the litigation process.

The Small Claims Court is User Friendly

The Small Claims rules are designed to be accessible and understandable to the public. The increased standardization and uniform procedure makes it possible for clients to have more involvement in their Small Claims Court proceedings. It also provides clients with the opportunity to manage their legal fees in a meaningful way. Where appropriate, increasing client involvement can significantly reduce legal fees and give clients the opportunity to represent themselves in court.

Practical Takeaways

Bringing an action in the Small Claims Court can mean lower costs and a quicker resolution of your dispute. At Ryder-Burbidge Hurley Foster, our firm offers unbundled legal services for clients wishing to tailor their litigation strategy. Legal advice, assistance with drafting pleadings, agency for settlement conferences, and representation at trial can be provided separately according to the needs of the client. Our lawyers will provide a realistic and honest assessment of your claim, including the expected length and expenses of the litigation process. When contemplating legal action, it is crucial to begin by seeking advice from a lawyer, and at RBHF we are always available to provide dynamic and forthright advice to the Kingston and surrounding community.

We service clients from Kingston to Toronto and everywhere in between. And Ottawa, :) Thank you for reading!

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